We reported last week that the Australian government is investing heavily in expanding hydrogen hubs. The country is making efforts to reduce emissions including building 7 prospective sites for hydrogen hubs in locations like Darwin, Gladstone in Queensland, the Pilbara in WA, the Hunter Valley in NSW, and Bell Bay in Tasmania and utilizing carbon capture technologies.
CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency, just announced it will lead a new consortium in the development of a business case to assess the viability of a large-scale low emissions carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) hub outside of Darwin.
The project near Darwin is deemed to be one of the largest carbon capture and storage projects in the world. CSIRO joined forces with the Northern Territory Government, industry, and engineering companies to develop the assessment and come up with a pathway towards the rapid reduction of emissions across the energy sector in Northern Australia.
Some of the companies that will collaborate on the project are Santos, Eni, INPEX, Woodside, Origin Energy and Xodus. The hub will be open to a wide range of industries and will help the development of new sustainable businesses that would speed up the energy transition.
The major project will also enable the development of an interconnected hydrogen industry and the utilization of the CO2 captured from industrial processes. That could be just the beginning of a wave of future low emissions hubs around Australia.
“As Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO is always looking for ways to bring business and government together to envision and deliver a more sustainable future for some of our largest industries…The NT Hub could create new jobs and export pathways, and give Australia a global advantage by pushing the boundaries of science and technology to put home-grown innovation into real-world demonstration projects, including through our Hydrogen Industry mission,” said CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall.
CSIRO plans to contribute with its expertise in hydrogen, carbon capture utilization and storage, and impartial scientific advice. The agency will also coordinate the development of detailed concept designs, build international linkages, conduct geological research, economic and consumer studies.
Gorgon Project Setbacks Raise Doubts
The critiques of carbon capture and storage have been mounting since Chevron’s Gorgon liquified natural gas project failed to deliver the promised to the government emissions reductions even though it received $60 million in federal funding. The project has faced delays and operational problems and raised doubts about the viability of the technology.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into [CCUS] and proved in most applications it’s just prohibitively expensive. And there doesn’t seem to be any real prospect that that’s going to change,” said John Quiggin – University of Queensland professor in economics and climate change expert. He also claims Australia has invested around $2 billion into carbon capture projects and research over the last 10 years that have “gone nowhere”.
On the other hand, Dr Andrew Ross – CSIRO’s lead researcher on the Darwin project, said that the technology is proven and there are exciting business models in Europe and around the world that reduce carbon emissions and bring innovation.
The new carbon capture utilization and storage hub in Darwin is one of several other projects in progress that promise to engage industry and stakeholders in decarbonization and climate change mitigation. The hub in Darwin could also become a blueprint for future similar initiatives.